Former Pitt center Steven Adams is on a quest for an NBA title with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team recently ousted the San Antonio Spurs and now find themselves in the Conference Finals. Adams, for his part, played a huge role in the Spurs series.
After a more limited role in the series with the Dallas Mavericks in the opening round of the playoffs, Adams saw more minutes against San Antonio and upped his production. He played nearly 36 minutes per game against the Spurs, an increase of about 30% from the Mavericks series.
Against San Antonio, Adams averaged a double double. Pulling in 11.8 rebounds per game, he had at least ten in every single game - including a monster 17-rebound effort in a key one-point Game 2 road win. Just how impressive was that win in San Antonio? It was only the second time the team lost there all season and the only other team to defeat them at home was the world champion Golden State Warriors.
Adams also came up bigger on offense in the series, reaching double figures in four contests. He had 15 points in the Game 6 finale and was on fire offensively, shooting over 70% from the field. Ironically, the game he played the most (Game 3 when he was on the court for 41 minutes) was the game he factored in the least on offense, scoring only two points. But that was the exception instead of the rule and overall, he had a very productive series. Defensively, he added a block and nearly a steal per game.
One encouraging thing is that Adams' increase in minutes came despite backup Enes Kanter still continuing to play quite a bit. Kanter actually played a bit more as well as Oklahoma City tried to match San Antonio's size. It will be interesting to see how he is used as the team now faces the guard-heavy Warriors. Adams responding well when given the extra minutes is a big positive, which hopefully means he'll continue to be stay on the court for the next series. The first game is Monday at 9:00 p.m. on TNT.